Have you heard the rumor? Everything important about your career is listed within the pages of your resume. Why would you possibly want to waste your time putting together a cover letter these days? Applying online is easy. All you need to do is upload your resume and click submit. If you’re qualified, the company will call you. Right?
Wrong. As you can imagine, this couldn’t be further from the truth. But, somehow, it’s a question I’m asked every week by job seekers – and surprisingly, even a well-known publication wanted to know.
In today’s competitive job market, the cover letter is more important than ever. Here’s the thing. There’s a decent chance you’re going to be working in a different industry, for a different company, and with a different title very soon. But, first, you have to convince a hiring manager as to why you’re the best fit. You’ve got to explain how your current experience as a corporate project management translates to an awesome new career in non-profit fundraising. And, your resume alone just isn’t going to cut it.
Your cover letter is your personal narrative. It’s your opportunity to explain directly to the hiring manager why you are the best fit. Don’t leave them guessing. Be direct, and be specific.
Imagine you were the hiring manager. You received resumes from two equally qualified candidates. Only one took the time to explain why they’re the best fit, and why they’re passionate about the job. Who would you pick?
If you’re wondering where to begin, start with the same header you use for your resume. It’s an easy way to make all of your materials match. Don’t be afraid to reiterate things that are listed in your resume. There is no guarantee anyone will actually read it. Your cover letter’s goal is to convince the hiring manager to take a closer look at you.
Mention which position you’re applying for. Explain confidently why you’re a great fit. Highlight relevant work and educational experience. If you have a hobby, passion, or side project that makes you more qualified than the average candidate, say so. Leave out personal details that are not relevant to the role.
Admittedly, one difference in today’s cover letter versus one twenty years ago is that it extends beyond the reach of a piece of paper. We tell our personal narratives everyday online when we share opinions and photos on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other websites.
There’s nothing from preventing your future employer from researching you. You’ve spent time perfecting your personal brand. Don’t let it go to waste by representing yourself poorly in the online world. Interviewing is like attending a dinner party. You never know who you might meet, or what their views may be.
Work to tell your own story in your own way, and you’ll go further. You are much more likely to land the job you really want when you don’t buy into the myth that the cover letter is dead.
Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com.
Author: Angela Copeland
Angela Copeland is Founder and Coach for Copeland Coaching, a great way to jump start your job search. Follow her on Twitter @CopelandCoach for tips on finding the perfect job for you.